Cheesemakers and Greeks, both blessed according to Monty Python. They obviously never met Richard Meek

Regular T4 devotees will be used to seeing yellow Vans doing the rounds, thanks to the AA’s long association with VW’s finest. Amongst the modern day Bus fraternity they are somewhat revered as the ultimate secondhand incarnation of the facelift, long-nose ’4.  Even a swift interweb search for ex-AA T4s nets results suggesting that ’53-plate examples hold their value better than one-year old Vauxhall Vivaros and Renault Trafics, but why is it that those contoured headlamps and longer wings demand so much more respect than evidently inferior brands?  Well, to be honest, even we’re not entirely sure, but the ongoing public perception of the T4’s reliability and build quality seems to be universally held, almost to the point that their values are even starting to oust those of its younger T5 sibling.

” It’d be fantastic for the racetrack, but it’s pony for the bumps around Torbay “

Good examples with seemingly intergalactic mileage seem to troop on forever but, as with any motor, the legend that surrounds them also means less conscientious owners can easily hide a snotter.  So don’t forget… caveat emptor!

Passion ’wagen

Not that any of the above had a bearing upon Richard Meek, 48, from Torquay when he started looking for a decent Van to ferry around a growing family in the style and comfort to which they had become accustomed.  “Between us, Heidi and I have five kids, so we needed something large and cool to get us about.  Heidi had a passion for T4s, and always used to point them out whenever one passed us on the road, so when I needed more seats and was bored with having a car like everyone else, my Bus love began.”  With a 2.4-litre, auto’, petrol T4 as his introduction to the breed, Richard soon realised that it wasn’t the most economical means of getting about.

Tech info:
2003 VW T4 TDi Transporter

ENGINE: 2.5 (AJT) 888 special TDi engine, free flow panel filter, Stanadyne 0.184 injectors, custom stainless, de-cat exhaust system, ECU re-map, 118bhp
WHEELS: 9 x 18-inch Inovit DTM alloys, 245/40 x 18 Falken ZE912 tyres
SUSPENSION: Front torsion spring adjustment, -50mm springs, Koni shocks, D2 Racing brake calipers and cross-drilled discs
EXTERIOR: Triumph Daytona Yellow paint, Projektzwo body kit, gloss black mirrors and wheels, twin angel eye headlamps, clear side repeaters
INTERIOR: Ford Galaxy front seats, T5 rear, full-width rock ’n’ roll bed, yellow and black vinyl, genuine VW side windows, tints

Richard: “I actually found this one on a popular internet auction site.  It was already painted Triumph Daytona Yellow, and had the Projektzwo body kit fitted.  Prior to that, it was a straightforward white Panel Van that the previous owner had gone to town on.  He was a huge F1 fan I guess, as he had stickers of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton all over the place, along with loads of chequered flags. Inside was basically a dark cave – no windows, bugger all lighting and four black, carbon fibre bucket seats with six-point harnesses.”

He didn’t have to limp it home in a state of disrepair, because the 2.5-litre TDi 888 special motor was in pretty good order, even now only having covered 70,000 miles from new.

“I got it home via my mate because I had a broken leg when I bought it.  I’d shattered my tibia jumping about on the moors and couldn’t drive at the time.  When it arrived home we soon discovered a slight oil leak,” Richard explains.  Further inspection revealed a kippered turbo gasket was to blame, but with the Van dispatched to his trusty local Mallock Road Garage, things were soon looking up, albeit after a wallet-emptying exercise.  “While it was apart, I decided to renew every gasket and fit a brand new turbo, so it wound up costing the best part of £1,800.”

Jiggery pokery

Combined with some ECU jiggery pokery and a custom stainless exhaust system that features a de-cat pipe, the under-bonnet wallop has been upped to a thoroughly useful 118bhp.  With the incredibly useful EGR blank carried out, the diesel dust that’s usually associated with mapping is also kept to a minimum.  “You can really hear the turbo spool, and it’s incredibly useable like this, still returning excellent economy compared to the old petrol engine I had,” Richard revealed.

With the engine dilemma well and truly sorted, the real push began, but with the Van in daily use it was vital that none of the changes interfere with its useability for very long.  In fact, the pimping continued at full pace as the interior was removed and sold on to make way for new windows, while the full ply lining, insulation and carpeting masterclass got under way.  Richard’s first step towards creating his ideal day van was to visit the workforce down at Transporter Depot.  They bolted in two Ford Galaxy front pews to accompany the single T5 rear seat, as well a full-width, crash-tested rock ’n’ roll bed, the whole lot having been reupholstered in matching yellow vinyl, due to Richard being somewhat partial to the Triumph colour scheme.

” par for the course when it comes to crafting your perfect getaway “

Before that little lot was all slotted into place, an acre of wiring was installed to satisfy the lighting, sound and computing needs Richard demanded.  Yep, you read that right, computing!  As the boss man at Richard Meek Computer Services, he’s a bit of a technophile. So what may appear to be just a 19-inch drop-down TV is in fact a touch screen PC with a 2TB hard drive, 500GB of tunes and 500GB of movies, all pre-installed.  “You can go online using your smart ’phone as a hot spot and Skype on the move,” he told us.  “The sound is transmitted via Bluetooth to the head unit and we’ve even run hidden USB cables, which come out by the rear seating so you can charge your mobile or plug a Blu Ray drive in.”

The toys don’t end there though, as there’s also a comprehensive ICE set up that includes a JVC KD-BT11 head unit, four-channel JBL GT5-A604E, 12-inch JBL boxed subwoofer and a smattering of Pioneer four and six-inch component speakers.  There’s even a pair of Infinity 6 x 9s mounted beneath the rock ’n’ roll bed for some extra rear fill, just in case your ears are still intact.

Much like the stereo system, feel and directness from behind that Momo Nero wheel is far from factory.  Being around 50mm closer to the tarmac, even when damped by Koni shocks, has lead to a ride quality that Richard himself has a very clear opinion of: “It’d be fantastic for a race track, but it’s pony for the bumps around Torbay,” he laughs.

Visually, it looks a lot lower than that, thanks to the body kit and the use of low profile 245/40 rubber that now adorns the 18-inch Inovit DTM-style split rims.  With the stance wound down on the front adjuster nut and loosened off by around 20mm to account for the -50mm springs out back, everything sits pretty, and most importantly level – not always the case when it comes to slamming a T4.

“One of my fave features is the push-button start,” confesses the electronics-loving owner. With such a gadget-laden cabin it’s surprising the blue LED dials that dominate the dash even get a look in, yet it’s hard to ignore them as they provide life blood info like boost, oil pressure, oil temperature and voltmeter read outs.

Wine and cheese party

As you’ve probably guessed by now, Richard’s attention to detail knows no bounds so, with a final nod to luminosity, he opted for D2 racing brake calipers, just because they came in that lovely yellow hue to match his Van!  Some may call that kind of behaviour obsessive, others just par for the course when it comes to crafting your perfect getaway for the beach and the school run.  And therein lies the beauty of this Van.  It was never meant to be a showpiece, just a practical, reliable, tax deductable (ahem…-Ed) bit of a giggle.  Which also goes some way to summing up Richard himself.  Amongst his many interests Richard sites rugby, motor racing, lager, red wine and cheese as his top five.  With such a brilliant selection of hobbies, is it any wonder he often finds himself down at the beach having to walk back home due to a bottle of plonk or two and a chunk of his favourite fromage.  Thankfully, due to the vivid choice of colour, he never has a problem finding it again the next morning, no matter how much cheese he has consumed.  After all, this is not just a Van, it’s a racing yellow Van, and you’re not going to miss that in a hurry.


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